John Wayne Airport in California’s Orange County is the subject of a potential name change spearheaded by Democratic politicians due to the Hollywood icon’s “racist and bigoted statements.”
The airport was renamed to honor the actor, who lived nearby, after he died in 1979.
As the Los Angeles Times reports, the Democratic Party of Orange County has passed an emergency resolution calling for the airport to revert back to its original name of Orange County Airport, and to remove statue of Wayne greeting travelers.
The resolution includes statements which “condemns John Wayne’s racist and bigoted statements,” calling them “white supremacist, anti-LGBT and anti-indigenous.”
The resolution states: “It is widely recognized that racist symbols produce lasting physical and psychological stress and trauma, particularly to Black communities, people of color and other oppressed groups, and the removal of racist symbols provides a necessary process for communities to remember historic acts of violence and recognize victims of oppression.”
The actor, best known for his leading roles in Western films, made several racist statements in a 1971 interview with Playboy, even admitting he was a believer in white supremacy.
The interview saw Wayne say: “I believe in white supremacy until the Blacks are educated to a point of responsibility.
“I don’t believe in giving authority and positions of leadership and judgment to irresponsible people.”
He also took aim at Native Americans.
He said: “I don’t feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from them … Our so-called stealing of this country from them was just a matter of survival.
“There were great numbers of people who needed new land, and [they] were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves.”
Orange County Supervisor Don Wagner told the Times that calls to rename the airport had “popped up periodically” but typically “don’t have legs” with local residents.
There has been a recent surge of actions and petitions to remove place names and symbols linked to figures who profited from or believed in white supremacy. The demands come off the back of the Black Lives Matter movement gaining public attention and traction following the death of George Floyd.